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A Bulwark Against the Storm: The unequal impact of COVID relief policies on families with young children

Summary of Findings

While overall rates of food insecurity across the country remained stable between 2019 and 2020 – likely a result of robust investments in relief programs – families with young children, families of color, and immigrants faced increased economic hardship during the pandemic. New longitudinal research from Children’s HealthWatch shows that compared to pre-pandemic levels, food insecurity and being behind on rent increased significantly for families with young children from September 2020 to March 2021. Compared to pre-pandemic levels/baseline, families with immigrant mothers had higher odds of increased economic hardship during the pandemic than those with US-born mothers. Federal Economic Impact Payments significantly reduced odds of food insecurity during the pandemic for all families, but families with immigrant mothers reported lower receipt of the payments and lower rates of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than families with US-born mothers. Equitable policies that reduce economic hardships for families most impacted during the pandemic are urgently needed.

This work was made possible through generous funding from and partnership with the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.